What’s in it for me?

what-in-it-for-me How well are you communicating changes to your team?

Last month, we wrote about the impact of consequences and their importance in seeing visible change in skills, behaviors and attitudes. Without them, it is just too easy for leaders and followers alike to fall back into old habits. In this edition, and in response to conversations around change we’ve had with our own leadership and business coaching clients, we will focus on a structure we used both as leader and coach to effectively communicate change.

It stands to reason that as a business strategy evolves, so too do the needs of the business for and from its people. As leaders communicate the new strategy to the organization, how are they also communicating the changes in skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary to effectively execute the new strategy? How are they winning over hearts and minds to help embrace change at an emotional level?

The format we recommend and follow consists of the five elements listed below and first introduced by Achilles A Asmerakis and Stanley G. Harris in 2002:

  1. Discrepancy ~ help the organization understand the need for change; why the current state of the business is not acceptable and what would happen if no change occurred. This is where consequences have a role to play in helping the organization understand what happens if nothing changes. The leader’s communications must connect with the organization on both a physical and an emotional level.
  2. Efficacy ~ instilling confidence in the organization that they have the ability and skills needed to succeed in the proposed change. This includes communicating both the technical skills required for each function as well as the people skills required to leverage the new technical skills. We are seeing this play out in a very meaningful way as artificial intelligence invades every corner of the business consciousness.
  3. Appropriateness ~ convincing the organization of the appropriateness of the change to win their minds and hearts, normal resistance notwithstanding. Effective leaders are rarely surprised by some level of resistance to change. Resistance to change is a normal human condition so leaders must embrace it and communicate in a way that resonates on a human level and addresses the specific reasons why the resistance to the change exists.
  4. Principal Support ~ demonstrate to the organization the requisite resources and commitment are in place to see the change through to institutionalization. The challenge of change is easier to accept when leadership provides and communicates the means to succeed as an organization. We see this in organizations that minimize the chaos of change by investing in retraining existing employees rather than firing those with less relevant skills and hiring all new employees with newer skills.
  5. Personal Valence ~ help the organization understand how the change impacts them personally and how they fit into the new scheme of the business, including their roles in the transition. Everyone listens to WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) Radio so leaders must proactively and openly communicate what can be shared as to the impact of the change. A key element of success here is to treat this as a series of conversations versus a one-time event.

The last bullet point brings up a challenge many leaders struggle with when communicating change. “What if I don't know the answer to their questions?”, they ask. Our answer is always the same. Tell them what you can and if you do not know the answer or cannot tell them because of confidentiality, then tell them that as well. Our experience tells us that the more up front the organization knows what to expect as far as the skills, knowledge, and attitudes they will need in the new reality, the more they will ultimately embrace the change itself. Springing it on people at the last minute where they have little time to react and process the new information only creates more problems than it solves!

How well are you communicating changes to your team and how do you know? If you are not sure, we can help!

Lead Well!


Here's What I'm Sayin'
No consequences...

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Sunday, 21 July 2024